Iowa State researcher explores promising battery innovation for wind power


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KC McGinnis | January 19, 2016

An Iowa State University researcher may be one step closer to producing a safer and more efficient method of storing energy from wind turbines.

Engineer Steve Martin is developing battery technology that could replace the existing lithium-ion batteries currently used to store wind energy, which are highly flammable and rely on a relatively limited resource, lithium. Instead Martin is looking to improve upon sodium-based battery technology to make it a feasible wind energy solution. Martin wants to develop a battery that both depends on a more abundant resource, sodium, and can run at room temperature.

In 2015 Martin received a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to further develop his solid-state sodium battery technology. Unlike lithium batteries that use a liquid electrolyte, these batteries will be made of all solid materials, making them less susceptible to fires. These parts are being developed in conjunction with Iowa State researchers at the University of Houston, the University of Colorado Boulder and Washington State University.

Martin and several other Iowa State researchers were recently profiled in a Des Moines Register feature on Iowa researchers driving energy innovations.

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